The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Susan Hankinson

Associate Dean for Research for SPHHS, Professor

Research areas include the etiology and prevention of women's cancers, as well as the incorporation of biomarkers into population studies.

Current Research

I am a cancer epidemiologist with expertise in evaluating lifestyle factors as well as a range of biomarkers in relation to cancer (largely breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer) risk and survival. To date, much of my effort has focused on the use of urinary or blood markers to characterize exposure status (or change in exposure status) in relation to disease risk; other projects have evaluated tissue markers to either better understand biologic pathways underlying an exposure, or to define cancer subtypes. A primary focus has been the evaluation of hormones and nutrients in relation to breast cancer risk. I also have an interest in developing biomarkers of chronic stress, and in assessing biologic changes associated with alterations in lifestyle (e.g., change in diet or physical activity). Further, for biomarkers consistently linked to disease (e.g., sex steroid hormones and breast cancer), I have worked to improve disease risk prediction models. Because of this work, I also am a member of the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring.

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Academic Background:

  • BS Nursing, University of Maine, 1979
  • MS Environmental Health, University of Minnesota, 1985
  • MPH Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, 1986
  • ScD Epidemiology, Harvard University, 1992
Heng YJ, Wang J, Ahearn TU, Brown SB, Zhang X, Ambrosone CB, de Andrade VP, Brufsky AM, Couch FJ, King TA, Modugno F, Vachon CM, DuPre NC, Garcia-Closas M, Troester MA, Hunter DJ, Eliassen AH, Tamimi RM, Hankinson SE*, Beck AH*. Molecular mechanisms linking high body mass index to breast cancer etiology in post-menopausal breast tumor and tumor-adjacent tissues. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019 Feb;173(3):667-677 PMCID: PMC6391202. * co-last authors
Zhang X, Rice M, Tworoger SS, Rosner BA, Eliassen AH, Tamimi RM, Joshi AD, Lindstrom S, Qian J, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Kraft P, Hankinson SE. Addition of a polygenic risk score, mammographic density, and endogenous hormones to existing breast cancer risk prediction models: A nested case-control study. PLoS Med. 2018 Sep 4;15(9):e1002644. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6122802.
Eliassen AH, Warner ET, Rosner B, Collins LC, Beck AH, Quintana LM, Tamimi RM, Hankinson SE. Plasma 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Breast Cancer in Women Followed over 20 Years. Cancer Res 2016 Sep 15;76(18):5423-30.
Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Zhang X, Qian J, Sluss PM, Rosner BA, Hankinson SE. A 20-year prospective study of plasma prolactin as a risk marker of breast cancer development. Cancer Res. 2013 Aug 1;73(15):4810-9.
Eliassen AH, Hendrickson SJ, Brinton LA, Buring JE, Campos H, Dai Q, Dorgan JF, Franke AA, Gao YT, Goodman MT, Hallmans G, Helzlsouer KJ, Hoffman-Bolton J, Hultén K, Sesso HD, Sowell AL, Tamimi RM, Toniolo P, Wilkens LR, Winkvist A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Zheng W, Hankinson SE. Circulating carotenoids and risk of breast cancer: pooled analysis of eight prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Dec 19;104(24):1905-16.
Eliassen AH, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Adult weight change and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. JAMA. 2006 Jul 12;296(2):193-201. PMID: 16835425 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Contact Info

Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
School of Public Health and Health Sciences
426 Arnold House
715 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

(413) 577-4369